Source: publisher via NetGalley
In 1581, a 14 year old orphaned shepherdess named Virginia Tacci rode a horse in the Siena palio, a no holds barred race through the streets of Siena, Italy. No woman did this again until Rosanna Bonelli in 1957, and she fell, unable to complete the race. An Italian palio is a matter of pride for the towns and neighborhoods who enter horses under their banner.
Virginia’s horsemanship, strength, and beauty has been lauded in poetry and tales handed down by the Sienese ever since. At a time when women were not allowed to ride at all, how did a poor, skinny, dirty villainessa a capture the hearts of her city so strongly?
Linda Lafferty has taken the legend and brought it to life in The Shepherdess of Siena. With little information available about Virginia herself, Lafferty has meticulously researched the history of Tuscany, the organization of Renaissance society and the traditions of the palio.
Over several years and multiple visits to Tuscany, she has taken facts and legend to create an interesting and exciting story of what could have been.
I found the story line believable, and learned so much about society in Renaissance Italy from this book. It is highly recommended to lovers of historical fiction as well as those who enjoy a good adventure.
I received The Shepherdess of Siena as an e-book from the publisher in exchange for an honest interview.
About Linda Lafferty (from Goodreads)
The daughter of a naval commander, Linda Lafferty attended fourteen different schools growing up, ultimately graduating from the University of Colorado with a master’s degree and a PhD in education. Her peripatetic childhood nourished a lifelong love of travel, and she studied abroad in England, France, Mexico, and Spain. Her uncle introduced her to the sport of polo when she was just ten years old, and she enjoys playing to this day. She also competed on the Lancaster University Riding Team in England in stadium jumping, cross country, and dressage. A veteran school educator, she is the author of The Bloodletter’s Daughter and The Drowning Guard. She lives in Colorado.